UN: Force-feeding at Guantanamo 'torture'
The UN human rights office has condemned force-feeding hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay, calling it ‘torture’ and a breach of international law.
At least 21 inmates out of the 100 officially on strike are being force-fed through nasal tubes.
"If it's perceived as torture or inhuman treatment -- and it's the case, it's painful -- then it is prohibited by international law," said Rupert Coville, spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights, AFP reported.
The UN bases its position on that of the World Medical Association, which consists of 102 nations including the United States, Coville explained. The international organization, a watchdog for ethics in healthcare, said back in 1991 that forcible feeding is "a form of inhuman treatment" and “never ethnically acceptable.”
"Even if intended to benefit, feeding accompanied with threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment. Equally unacceptable is the force feeding of some detainees in order to intimidate or coerce other hunger strikers to stop fasting," it said.
According to the WMA’s 1975 declaration, artificial feeding methods should never be used without a prisoner's permission.
The prisoner has the right to refuse food if a physician considered the person able to rationally take the decision, being aware of the consequences. If the person is unable to take the decision or agrees to the feeding then it can be used, says the WMA.
A lawyer representing one of the detainees at Guantanamo detention camp, a Kuwaiti Fayiz al-Kandari, 35, claims that his client has been tube-fed against his will for a week, accusing US military personnel of using an “unnecessarily large feeding tube.”
Another prisoner described the process as extremely painful in a New York Times op-ed on Monday, April 15.
"There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach," Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel wrote.
"I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone."
Twenty-one of the detainees fasting are being force fed through nasal tube due to their deteriorating health and five hospitalized, according to official estimates as of April 29.
While the inmates are protesting their indefinite incarceration without being presented charges, Obama at a media briefing on April 30 said that the prosecution of terrorists should be getting “wiser.”
The Guantanamo Bay facility was set up by former president George W. Bush to hold those allegedly responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. However, the detainees accused of terrorism still remain in prison without trial. Only nine have been formally charged or convicted of a criminal offense.
- Asian Tribune –